When I was growing up, my sister and I shared a room. There was no choice in the matter and even though our house had a number of spare rooms, they had all been designated to other purposes and my younger sister and I ended up sharing. We did the obligatory bunk beds (oldest on top of course!) and then graduated to singles, with Mum and Dad finally relenting and letting us separate when we one day moved the furniture in our shared lodgings to literally divide the room in half, with wardrobes and dressers running straight down the middle.
Whether your kids share a bedroom by choice or necessity, making the decision of who to put in with who, and when to separate can be a tricky one.
Who Goes Where?
Traditionally, boys go in with boys and girls go in with girls, but the increasing cost of housing and the prevalence of smaller houses on smaller blocks (especially in the metro area) means you may not always have a choice when it comes to who shares with who. Some families opt for the younger kids to bunk in together, letting the older kids have their independence, especially those who feel they need privacy as they get older. Babies are spending a lot longer in their parents rooms, usually assigned a corner of the room for their cot or small toddler bed and beds that utilise less space, such as trundles and bunks, are always popular on those who are a little floor-space poor!
My Kids Have Different Bedtimes, What Happens If They Share?
A lot of parents have a generic bedtime for all their kids until late primary school age, and even if they do allow the older ones to stay up later, it’s usually only 15-30 minutes more. Encourage your child to read in a quiet place outside of the bedroom or watch TV with the family to allow their sibling to get to sleep before they go to bed. This can be a great opportunity for one-on-one time, a special cuddle or a story before bed. Kids who are much older and need to share with younger ones should understand the need to be quiet when entering the room and getting into bed.
Research shows that although many kids complain about having to share a bedroom, most enjoy it a significant amount more than they let on. Little boys close in age in particular find great comfort in sharing a room and studies have shown they are usually the ones to separate at a later age, if given the opportunity, and would choose to share even if another room becomes available. Most kids become quite dependant on the presence of their sibling/s in the same room at bedtime, which can be a frightening time for some, so some parents find they face a challenge when they eventually do move each child to their own room.
When Do I Separate Them?
If room permits, the choice to move your kids into separate rooms is completely up to you. You can wait until your children ask for their own room, however this can cause problems when the older sibling wants their own space and the younger one is not quite ready to let go! If you renovate to allow for more space, let each child pick their colour palette and accessories for their new room; get excited about the changes and you’ll find they adopt the concept of being on their own much easier. Remember there will come a time when older children need their own space and privacy, especially as they experience puberty, so discussions about having one’s own room one day can be a great Segway for when the time comes.
When you do separate, encourage ‘sleep-overs’ but make sure each child understands the idea of personal space and privacy, especially if you are dealing with pre-teen children.
Things To Remember
Keep in mind that kids with a chronic illness or special needs tend to unintentionally disrupt other sleepers, especially if they have alarms or special equipment to allow them to sleep properly. Kids who snore, sleep-talk or sleep-walk can also cause problems. Kids with wildly different temperaments and ‘sharing’ issues usually find it difficult to share a room and arguments (which are usually present regardless) can arise over possession’s and storage space.
But sharing a bedroom can be a wonderful way to foster a close bond between siblings. It teaches them about compromise and sharing a space, respect for other belongings and consideration of others personal needs. As with most things kid related, if you outline the positives and get them excited about the concept, they will usually get right on board!
Even after years of whingeing and complaining and begging for my own room, I remember sleeping with my head in the doorway of my new room, with my little sister’s door just cm’s away, just to feel close to her for the first few weeks. Its a big change and it should be recognised as such. Kids grow up way too fast these days and although you may want to give them the luxury of their own space, there is something very special about the memories of sharing a room!
Do your kids share a room? What are your thoughts on sharing bedrooms with siblings?
- Frugal Living